Fire Safety in Commercial Premises

Article by Sam Pearson

With the tragedy at Grenfell Tower still fresh in our memories, fire safety understandably has become something of a pressing issue. Our commercial property specialist Sam Pearson looks at the importance of getting it right when it comes to fire safety in commercial premises.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“The Order”) covers fire safety in England and Wales with the aim of protecting buildings and people from the dangers of fire by setting out steps which should be taken to reduce the risk. Responsibility for complying with The Order rests with the “responsible person[s]” which includes the employer in the workplace, owners and/or persons in control of premises.

Although The Order is aimed at commercial premises (including external areas and vacant premises) it is important to mention that it also applies to communal parts of residential properties.

The responsible person[s] must determine what general fire precautions are necessary and carry out a risk assessment which must be documented, recorded and kept under review. Other responsibilities include (but are not limited to) taking measures for the provision of firefighting and fire detection equipment; ensuring fire safety equipment and exit routes are properly maintained; the appointment of a competent person to implement the fire safety measures including evacuation procedures and safety drills; and providing training and information for employees and other persons who may be affected.

A breach of your obligations under The Order creates criminal offences and a person found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine and in the most serious cases imprisonment. The responsible person[s] could also face civil liability for breach of a statutory duty.

There have been numerous cases where businesses and Landlords have been convicted for failing to comply with their obligations under The Order:

  • Most recently in June 2017, a company responsible for the running of a care home in Doncaster was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £13,325 prosecution costs for failing to have a suitable fire risk assessment in place;
  • Locally, a Welsh construction company was fined £100,000 after admitting to fire safety breaches at a construction site and a Cardiff landlord was fined nearly £2,000 for failing to install smoke alarms;
  • A number of major retailers have also been caught out including New Look who following a fire that gutted their Oxford Street store were fined £400,000 after pleading guilty to failing to provide sufficient staff training and admitting to storage blocking escape routes.

Clearly then the costs of getting it wrong can be high!

Whether you have any doubts about the adequacy of fire safety measures in existing premises, you are in process of acquiring new premises or in the unfortunate event you suffer a fire or face enforcement action,  our experts here at CJCH Solicitors will be able to provide you with the expert legal advice and practical commercial considerations to assist you and your business.

Need to recover debt from an individual or sole trader? New protocol in place from October 2017.

By Nerys Thomas – Solicitor (Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution)

From 1st October 2017 a new Pre-Action Protocol will be introduced which sets out the steps needed to be taken when looking to pursue a debt claim (The Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims). 

All businesses (including public bodies and sole traders) seeking to recover a debt from an individual will need to comply with the Protocol.   

The Protocol will not apply to business-to-business debts unless the Potential Defendant/debtor is a sole trader. 

As is the case with all Protocols, the intention is for the procedure to provide a way of filtering through potential claims, possibly facilitating a resolution where possible, or if the matter could not be resolved the parties will hopefully be in a position where the issues have been narrowed and/or a clearer understanding of the issues in dispute will be known.    

It is the intention that the Protocol will complement any regulatory regime to which the Potential Claimant/creditor is subject and should any conflict arise between the regulatory obligation and the Protocol, the former will take precedence.   

The likely impact upon the Potential Claimant/creditor in complying with the Protocol is the cost of preparing the required correspondence and responding to queries, should any be raised. 

Furthermore, the Protocol specifies deadlines, of mostly 30 days, which become relevant at various stages of the procedure, hindering the Potential Claimant/creditor from being able to issue the claim at their own discretion.

From a Potential Defendant/debtor’s perspective, a Letter of Claim requires a Reply Form being completed and possibly, depending upon the response being given in the Reply Form, a Standard Financial Statement which requests a great deal of personal information surrounding the person’s/sole trader’s finances, something a great deal of people/sole traders are likely to be uncomfortable with due to the imbalance this presents between parties.  

As with all Protocols, unless there is a justified reason for not using it, there may be cost consequences for failing to comply with the process.

Should you have any queries in relation to the above or any other dispute matters, please contact Nerys Thomas and the rest of the Commercial Law team on commercial@cjch.co.uk

Access to Justice: Supreme court rules to quash Employment Tribunal fees

The Supreme Court has handed down a game changing judgement relating to Employment Law. Seven Supreme Court Justices agreed, in the case of Unison v Lord Chancellor, that the Employment Tribunal and Employment Appeal Tribunal Fee Order 2013 prevented access to justice and furthermore was considered unlawful.

The result of this judgement is that fees structure for Employment Tribunals and Employment Appeal Tribunals has now been removed.

Nigel Daniel, CJCH Employment Law and HR Services Lead had this to say on the developments:

The implications of this decision are numerous. When the fee structure was in place (As of today, it no longer is), employers had a certain protection from vexatious claimants, who may very well have filed a claim hoping for an economic settlement, when in reality the claim may have had no prospect of success whatsoever.

CJCH represents both employers and employees in various matters, and we would predict that this development will result in a sharp increase in new instructions.

Immediately after the introduction of fees, claims to the Employment Tribunal dropped by 79%, so we would expect that trend will see an immediate reversal.

Claimants, who are at their most vulnerable, after losing their job, no longer have to worry about finding £1200 (estimated) to actually get a case to the Tribunal. I still feel, however, that we have a duty to advise responsibly, and inform possible claimants of potential costs penalties if that claimant persists in bringing a vexatious, or malicious case.

Our Commercial Law Lead, Gareth Thompson, considers the point of view of employers:

Since the run up to Brexit and its aftermath, the current government appears to have taken a semi-detached approach to their relationship with business and employers.  Following the election and its now precarious hold on power in parliament, it seems increasingly desperate to demonstrate its ‘People’ friendly credentials.

The announcement that employment tribunals are going to abandon the requirement for fees to start claims might be seen as the latest evidence of this.  The last upwards hike in fees slashed all new employee claims to tribunals by nearly 80%, almost overnight.  The removal of any fees promises to usher in a tsunami like wave of fresh claims.  From the employee’s perspective, this may be perceived as good news and the employment marketplace as a new happy hunting ground.

From an employer’s perspective, it may provoke a collective groan of despair and knee jerk defensive responses.  All may agree that prevention of claims is better than cure.  Some reactive employers may be tempted to simply look even harder than they otherwise have done at anyone employed by them for less than two years and pro-actively purge the ranks of anyone likely to prove problematic in the longer term.

However other employers will sensibly take a more enlightened approach.  They will look hard and long at their recruitment processes to ensure that they take on the right people for them in the first place.  They will also review their training and appraisal policies to ensure they become meaningful and valuable personal development tools instead of internal compliance-driven tick-box exercises.  They might consider giving them representation on management boards or simply have regular meetings to share knowledge and experience, air any issues and invite constructive suggestions for improvement.  They might also want to consider imaginative reward schemes to incentivise everyone employed by them and give them a real vested interest in the success of the business.

Businesses don’t need to introduce truly radical human resource management to prevent negative confrontation.  All that is required to create a positive and productive working environment is good management practice and a healthy dose of common sense. Traditional hierarchies and old fashioned practices should be the first thing to be axed if any organisation is serious about success and growth.  Conversely, an inclusive and all-embracing approach to their workforce should be the first thing to be introduced as the best defence against negative and expensive grievances and claims.

 

Inclusion and Diversity – CJCH Commitment

CJCH Equality & Diversity Policy

paralegal jobs barryAs our 2017 diversity results are set to be published on our website later this week, we would like to share our internal Equality and Diversity Policy as well. This policy is available to all staff and is in the process of being added to our website footer for ease of access.

The firm is committed to providing equality of opportunity and maximising the benefits, for all, to be gained from recognising and respecting people diversity. The senior person responsible this policy and its effective implementation is Tim Hartland.

SRA Regulations (2011): The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) Mandatory Principle No 9 requires us to: “Run your business or carry out your role in the business in a way that encourages equality of opportunity and respect for diversity.

Discrimination:

The firm, its owners, directors, partners, managers and staff will not discriminate or tolerate unlawful discrimination based on any of the “protected characteristics” set out in the Equality Act 2010 or the legal sector Quality Standards referred to below:

  1. Equality Act 2010 – “protected characteristics” are listed as:
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Pregnancy and Maternity
  • Race
  • Religion and Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  1. The LAA’s SQM lists additional/differently-worded characteristics:
  • Colour
  • Ethnic or national origins,
  • Marital status

Types of Discrimination

  • Direct Discrimination – one person is treated less favourably than another based on a protected characteristic.
  • Indirect Discrimination – a rule or policy that applies to everyone that can inadvertently disadvantage someone with a protected characteristic (unless it is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate business aim”).
  • Associative Discrimination – direct discrimination takes place against someone because they associate with someone who has a protected characteristic e.g. A carer of a person with a disability.
  • Discrimination by Perception – direct discrimination because others think (wrongly) that someone has a protected characteristic – e.g. when they think someone is gay when they are not and discriminate against them on the basis of that perception.

Harassment and Victimisation:

The firm will not tolerate or permit Harassment or Victimisation of any kind either of our own personnel, clients or persons external to our organisation with whom we interact professionally.

  • Harassment – including unwanted or inappropriate attention or behaviour staff find offensive even if not directed against them personally;
  • Harassment by a Third Party;
  • Victimisation – someone being treated badly because they have complained, raised a grievance or supported someone who has e.g. whistle blower or complainant.

Application of the Policy:

Our Equality and Diversity Policy will be implemented and integrated into all elements of our business to encourage a diverse and inclusive enforcement both internally and externally. A full version of this policy is available to all our staff and can be made available to our clients and suppliers upon request.

Enforcement – Breach of this Policy:

It is hoped that as a result of training, all staff will see the benefits of complying with all aspects of this policy. If, however, there is an alleged breach of this policy, the allegations will be treated seriously and investigated and dealt with thoroughly.

Diversity:

  • We all come from different backgrounds and each person brings a wealth of life experiences that shape us into the unique individual we each are.
  • The organisation is, therefore, a rich tapestry of people which make it different from any other organisation.
  • We therefore often have different perspectives on the challenges and opportunities we face in the practice.
  • In our decision-making, strategic planning and process improvement, we, therefore, wish to benefit from these different perspectives.
  • Equality and Diversityisnot about treating everyone as if they were the same. It’s about recognising and valuing the difference and ideas that each individual can bring to the firm.
  • It is about the benefits to all of us of equality fairness and difference.
  • It is about treating each other with respect and courtesy at all times.
  • The firm is committed to collecting, collating, reporting and publishing its diversity data in line with SRA requirements and the Data Protection Act

Positive action:

  • Although it is unlawful to discriminate in favour of certain groups on the grounds of race or sex, positive action to enable greater representation of under-represented groups is permitted by law and the appropriateness of such action will be kept under review.

Communication of Policy to Staff:

  • The policy is communicated to all staff through internal communication channels, meetings and training, and is available to all staff via the firms internal portal.

Meeting the Diverse Needs of the Clients and Communities we serve:

  • Our Services Plan sets out how we will meet the diverse needs of the clients and local communities we serve and is available upon request.

Reasonable Adjustments for Personnel:

  • If difficulties are experienced at work because of a disability, staff may wish to contact our Managing Partner to discuss any reasonable adjustments that would help overcome or minimise the difficulty.
  • We will consider the request carefully and try to accommodate the needs within reason. If we consider a particular adjustment would not be reasonable we will explain our reasons and try to find an alternative solution where possible.

Review of this Policy:

  • The policy will be reviewed annually using prescribed procedures.

 

#SortYourLifeOut – A mantra of taking control

At CJCH Solicitors, we aim to put our clients first and to support the communities in which we operate. With four offices spanning across South Wales, and two satellite offices in England, we have the ability, expertise and resources to offer our clients a wide range of services in several locations.

Our Family, Matrimonial and Children Law and Private Client departments recently launched a new ad campaign to reach out to people who may have questions and need support in difficult times. We hope to help guide them and ease the stress associated with situations such as planning a will, dealing with the probate of an estate, or considering all elements involved in a separation or divorce. There are many instances when people could benefit from the advice and guidance of an experienced and approachable solicitor, and we at CJCH have made it our mission to improve access to legal support and deliver personalised service.

Our new campaign is called #SortYourLifeOut, which is positioned as a helpful and uplifting slogan rather than the joking and judgemental tone it is often said with.

Take charge of your life. Put your plans in place. Be the victor, not a victim. Sort your life out.

Our campaign focuses on the fact that in every situation we face in life, no matter how testing or difficult, the choice to proactively plan, react and prosper is our choice to make. No one enters a marriage with the dream of it ending, and no one has children with their partner with the plan to raise them in separation, but should these things happen, our team is here to help you take the right steps towards making the most out of it and planning for a positive outcome.

#SortYourLifeOut is an uplifting mantra, of possibility, opportunity and silver linings.

At CJCH, we can help you #SortYourLifeOut.

To get in touch with us and see how we can assist you, click here for our contact details.

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CJCH Solicitors acquires Blackwood based, Patchell Davis

Cardiff based CJCH Solicitors has attained considerable media and industry coverage recently due to our rapid expansion strategy, dedication to client services, thought leadership in global anti-piracy, and commitment to supporting the Welsh community. We continue that trend for service excellence and geographical reach with the recent acquisition of Blackwood based solicitor firm, Patchell Davies.

Patchell Davies Solicitors opened its doors in Blackwood over 30 years ago and has been dedicated to supporting the legal services needs of the local and neighbouring communities ever since.

As of May 2017, Patchell Davies Solicitors was officially incorporated into CJCH Solicitors expanding the practice, already servicing clients around the globe, to six offices across the United Kingdom.

“CJCH is constantly looking to see how it can make the Welsh legal industry a more integrated and customer-centric one. We have achieved levels of working efficiencies and client service excellence that allow us to complete in local markets where pricing is under pressure. Growth has always been our strategy and we are delighted to acquire Patchell Davies who complement our teams of advisors” Nick Wootton, CJCH Chief Financial Officer and Merger & Acquisition Specialist.

 

 

 “We pride ourselves in offering dedicated, personalised and results-orientated legal services to the Welsh community, and now we are proud to have become part of a practice which aligns to our core values and strives for excellence and innovation on a global scale.” Howard Patchell, Director of Patchell Davies Solicitors.  

CJCH has a global Intellectual Property and Technology with a Global Anti-Piracy and Cyber Protection development program, these skills are being rolled out across the firm in pursuit of our goals of establishing Wales and a central hub for Cyber Security thought leadership. The acquisition of Patchell Davies Solicitors will further promote our rollout plan, as we will be identifying and up-skills selected team members within the new Blackwood office to ensure the capability is present in all CJCH offices, and for all CJCH clients.

“The acquisition of Patchell Davies sees us broaden our services into a new geographical area. Our journey to a true customer focused legal practice, with local Welsh values and International capabilities is a continuous and evolutionary one. We see the incorporation of Patchell Davis into the CJCH Group as a step in the right direction towards achieving this goal, and bringing world-class legal support to Wales.” Tim Hartland, Managing Partner – CJCH Solicitors.

CJCH Solicitors contact information: admin@cjch.co.uk; 0333 231 6405

For further information on CJCH Solicitors please visit our website at www.cjchsolicitors.co.uk.

 

CJCH Solicitors backs local sporting tradition: Old Penarthians Sevens Tournament

At CJCH we are passionate about the communities we operate in, and the people we interact without. Outside of the practice of law and delivering impeccable services to our clients, that passion includes contributing to, and supporting, educational development and sport. We are proud to have had the opportunity to support local sporting talents by sponsoring the Old Penarthians Sevens Tournament this past weekend.

Full details of the events are provided in the club’s press release below:

The 68th running of the Old Penarthians Seven-a-Side tournament, sponsored for the first time by CJCH Solicitors took place on Saturday 20th May at Cwrt-y-vil Playing Fields.  And despite the poor weather during the week leading up to the event and the rain still falling an hour before the start of the tournament the matches themselves were played under blue skies and sunshine.

The attraction of Seven-a-side rugby was also a testament to the many hundreds of spectators who turned up to support an event that is an integral part of the Old Penarthians season.  Unfortunately, one integral part, Roy Churchill, was not present but in a moving tribute to the club’s former President, all players gathered on the main pitch prior to the event to join the spectators and members of the Churchill family in a minutes’ applause.

Whilst Roy’s memory will never be replaced his compere duties on the day were taken by Trevor Murphy, who forsook his Irish lilt for mid-Atlantic anonymity, assisted by tournament organiser David James with a cameo role from Club Secretary Tony Crimp.

The organisation of the day was managed smoothly and despite the late withdrawal of three teams and some confusion with the scheduling not matching the order of the games listed in the programme not many of the spectators or players were inconvenienced or even noticed.

In fact, the most disturbance caused during the afternoon was at the start of the tournament when the roof was blown off the marquee.  Not that the volunteers manning the stalls and food outlets were phased in any way and operations continued uninterrupted.  Fortunately, the roof of the hospitality tent remained intact and the patrons were able to remain sheltered, watered and fed to a high standard by hosts Rod Hill and David Chandler, whilst enjoying Sevens rugby of an excellent standard.

And the tournament started in impressive style when Old Penarthians played St Josephs and ran out winners by 42 points to nil.  Richard Pilcher, Stuart Clarke, Owen Lloyd, Rhys Beynon, Joe Page and Luke Dawes starred for the hosts but Liam Union’s splash down for a try did not quite reach the heights of Chris Ashton.

Next up on the main pitch were Cardiff RFC who defeated our regular English visitors from Corsham.  At the same time on pitch B St Peters were victors over Fire Service after a close score at halftime. The closest game in the first-round matches was between two of the invitational teams from Spikey Glove and Preseli Baa Baas. The final score going to the Preseli team in a 31 -27 victory.

Scorpions outclassed the RAF in their match but thanks go Jack Margetson and Rich Peregrine for organising a side at short notice to cover another team withdrawal.  The team also included Old Penarthians regulars Richard Kynaston, Matt Stingl and Tony Harris.  The last match in the first round was between two of the favourites and past champions Voyagers and Glantaf.  In the end, it was a relatively easy win for Voyagers but results later in the day would prove that defeat was not a disgrace.

Round two of the Main Competition gave spectators the first sight of the Ponty Butchers, after their bye in the first round, playing against Old Penarthians.  The Butchers side are from Pontydawe and yes, they are supported by the butcher from the town who started the team about ten years ago.  The team also featured a past winner of the Player of the Tournament, Sam Evans, who at the time played for Welsh Charitables. Whilst the initial performance from Old Pens was competitive and the scores level at 5 -5 Ponty Butchers ran out winners 33 – 19 sending the Old Pens, who had not given up, for an early bath.

The other second-round matches saw wins for Preseli Baa Baas and Scorpions with Voyagers receiving a bye straight to the semi-final due to the absence of some teams.

In the Plate competition on Pitch B St Josephs, Spikey Glove, Corsham and Glantaf progressed to the semi- finals.

The semi-finals of the main competition featured some outstanding rugby and two closely contested matches.  Ponty Butchers just sneaked past the Preseli team 27 -19 and in a repeat of the 2016 final Voyagers competed against Scorpions. This time, however, Voyagers overturned their final defeat with a 28 points to 17 victory.  This win sent Voyagers to their fourth successive final.

The Plate semi-finals saw St Josephs inch pass Spikey Glove by a point in a thrilling 15 – 14 scoreline but Glantaf proved too strong for Corsham who despite the loss were pleased to have played three games and celebrated as if they had won the event.

Before the final, there was an excellent 7s match at U12 level between the Old Penarthians and Barry RFC.  Old Pens may have won the match but rugby was the winner when you can see the enjoyment of the participants and spectators watching the players of the future.  This was also true in the tag exhibition matches played before the competition started between age group sides from the Old Pens M&J section.  The coaches and parents of the players should be proud of the skill levels on show and it hopefully bodes well for the future.

The first final to be contested was for the Golden Jubilee Plate and Glantaf, more used to playing for the main prize, were too strong for a St Josephs team that were affected by injuries picked up in the earlier rounds and were winners by 45 -21.

The final of the newly inaugurated Roy Churchill Trophy was a keenly contested match between the two most athletic and physical sides in the competition. Voyagers with their experience of previous finals edged the result over Ponty Butchers but the 28 -19 scoreline does now show the competitiveness that saw the Butchers within 2 points of the lead with only 3 minutes to play.  Ultimately the control of the ball in the last few minutes was the key factor and under the stewardship on Man of the Tournament Joe Scrivens Voyagers were worthy winners.

After the match, the presentations were made to the winning and losing finalists of the Plate and the Roy Churchill Trophy by the senior partner, Stephen Clarke, of CJCH Solicitors, the main sponsor of the Tournament.

 

 

Main competition results.

Round 1:  St. Josephs 0 Old Penarthians 42;  Fire Service 7 St. Peters 29;  Cardiff 33 Corsham 5;  Voyagers 31 Glantaf 5;  Ponty Butchers Bye;  Preseli Baa Baas 31 Spikey Glove 27;  Scorpions   64 RAF 0.

Round 2:  Old Penarthians 19 Ponty Butchers 33;  Preseli Baa Baas 19  St. Peters 10;

Cardiff 10  Scorpions 22;  Voyagers Bye

Semi Final:  Ponty Butchers 24 Preseli Baa Baas 17;  Voyagers 28 Scorpions 17

Final:  Voyagers 28 Ponty Butchers 19

Plate competition results.

Round 1:  St. Josephs Bye;  Spikey Glove 40 Fire Service 17;  Corsham 44 RAF 12;  Glantaf Bye

Semi Final:  St. Josephs 15  Spikey Glove 14;  Corsham 14 Glantaf 35

Final:  Glantaf Goats 45 St. Josephs 21

(Image credits: All images and photographs displayed are courtesy of Old Penarthians RFC)

Reflection on Mental Health Awareness Week with a look to the future.

By Keith James, Solicitor/Partner

Last week, 8 to 14 May 2017, marked UK Mental Health Awareness week for 2017. The purpose of this annual event is to ‘prompt a national conversation about what we can do as communities, schools, families and individuals ‘to move from surviving to thriving’ (The Mental health foundation).

There is little doubt that in recent months awareness of the wide variety of mental health conditions and of the impact of mental health problems has grown and now appears to be rising up the political agenda.

High profile individuals who have experienced the impact of issues such as depression, including prominent figures in the football world, have helped to shine a light on how mental health problems can impact on the lives of everyday people – Mental Health issues do not discriminate.

Also in the news have been many stories from prominent individuals of how bereavement can impact on families and how help can be provided to families to talk through these issues.

Of particular current interest is how the result of the general election will impact on Mental Health Law and the provision of Mental Health Services. Already suggestions have been made of manifesto commitments to increase provision of community mental health staff and services but also a suggestion that the Mental Health Act should be replaced. This perhaps is the most intriguing suggestion.

The Mental Health Charity, Mind, has called for a review of the Mental health Act but there is a suggestion this could go further to avoid ‘unnecessary detentions’. It will certainly be interesting, during the General Election campaign, to see if this forms part of a manifesto commitment. Of particular interest will be what alternative proposals are suggested.

There is little doubt that Mental Health issues have risen up the political agenda, and for CJCH will continue to be an important part of our focus and drive to support our community.

For any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law team at mentalhealth@cjch.co.uk or call on +44 333 231 6405 (24 hour emergency line: +44 7967 305949)

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